LinkedIn Ramps Up In Business Marketing As It Adds Lead Generation To SlideShare

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LinkedIn has built up several new areas of its business to help it diversify revenues beyond premium subscriptions and job ads on its primary web site — with services like advertising now complemented by premium e-learning courses from Lynda.com.

Today LinkedIn is adding something more by way of SlideShare, its site for uploading and sharing presentations. The site is now going to offer paid tools for marketers, with the first focused on lead generation.

Adding lead generation fits into an area where I suspect LinkedIn is potentially looking to do a lot more — B2B solutions and specifically business marketing services. The company acquired Bizo exactly a year ago to help spearhead that effort.

Lead generation will let companies or marketers who have uploaded presentations essentially put up a “gate” on their content, where in order to follow with a specified action — whether it is downloading a presentation, or being able to view it in full — a person will need to provide his or her contact information, either in the form of a sign-in using LinkedIn, or by filling out names and contact information manually.

Pointedly, LinkedIn will be the only option given for single sign-on — no Twitter, Facebook or Google+ here.

While lead generation is the first paid product SlideShare is offering, it won’t be the last. Caroline Gaffney, the head of product for SlideShare, says that there will be “a lot more in the next six months, with lead-gen laying the foundation.”

As for what might be coming next, she wouldn’t specify but pointed to there now being some 20 million presentations on the platform, and how one useful thing could be better ways of leading users to more content around specific topics. This would also be one way to get more people to spend time on SlideShare.

This is not the first time that LinkedIn has had paid features on SlideShare: the business introduced Pro-tiers to its service in 2010, and after LinkedIn acquired the company in 2012, SlideShare kept Pro in place. Then, last year, the company removed all paid features and made the product free.

Gaffney says that LinkedIn moved away from Pro tiers because of feedback from readers who wanted a more simplified experience. It’s not clear how many Pro users there ever were, but my guess is that this was also to drive more users to the main service.

Today there are 70 million monthly active users of SlideShare, up from 60 million a year ago, and it seems that the idea will be to work not just on growing that number, but to better monetise the ones that are already there.

Marketers will be charged for lead-generation services on a pay-per-lead basis. They will be able to pick up data on users through mobile embeds of presentations, and will also be able to integrate HubSpot and Marketo to track leads.